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Publics: Situational Theory

Ana Tkalac Verčič

Subject Communication Studies » Strategic Communication and PR

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


During the past 40-odd years, James E. Grunig's situational theory of communication behavior has been developed, changed, empirically tested, and adjusted through new research, with the purpose of defining the communication process and the behavior that results from it. Situational theory seeks to explain why people communicate and when it is most likely that they communicate. The theory also uses communicational behavior to partition the general →  Public into smaller segments which are most likely to communicate about certain issues. Situational theory also predicts behavioral effects of communication (→  Media Effects ), as well as attitudes that are most commonly connected to specific types of communication and types of public for which these consequences are most likely. Finally, the theory describes the process in which a certain, previously unconnected, group of people develops into an activist group that, with its →  public opinion , influences the decisions of a certain organization ( Grunig 1997 ). In the course of its long development, the situational theory of publics has become a significant part of public relations theory and approaches to →  communication management ( Grunig & Repper 1992 ), as well as an integral part of the public relations two-way symmetrical model ( Grunig 1992 ). In its current form, situational theory offers guidelines for segmenting the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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